While a road trip through the fall colours or heading out in search of the fresh harvest is always one of our favourite things to do during this season, another is to get away to Cape Breton for a round - or six - of golf.
Nova Scotians have long known Cape Breton to be a golf destination, ever since the first round was played on a former Sydney pasture in 1895. However, the rest of the world is starting to discover just why we call the following six courses the "Spectacular Six". With golf that will both challenge and delight you, you'll find these courses to be on par with the amazing views they offer. You might even get to do some whale watching while you tee off.
Starting our Cape Breton golf road trip in Inverness, Cabot Links is Canada's only authentic links course. With our strong ties to Scotland, it should come as no surprise that Cape Breton would be the first in the country to have this style of course.
Designed by Rod Whitman, the course is set in the rugged, oceanfront landscape, on linksland running firm and fast with holes spread out between the sea and the village of Inverness. Aside from the golf, you'll love that every hole offers an ocean view and five holes play adjacent to the beach. Playing golf at Cabot Links is playing golf as it was meant to be played in true links style. And professional golfers agree, when two of the PGA Tour's top players, Graeme McDowell and Graham DeLaet, teeing off on the course in September 2013.
In 2013, this course was named one of the Top 100 in the world by GOLF magazine; a distinction only given to one other Canadian course.
The Le Portage Golf Club Le Portage owes both its name and its scenery to the quaint Acadian village of Chéticamp, on the western shore of Cape Breton Island, where its courses overlook the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and are framed by the Cape Breton Highlands mountain range.
When the sun sets at Le Portage, you have the chance to take in the sights sounds and tastes of Chéticamp's Acadian culture and music.
Located in the heart of Cape Breton Highlands National Park, this Stanley Thompson designed course has become a national treasure. The 18-hole journey showcases breathtaking mountain views and ocean vistas, made only more spectacular by the colours of Cape Breton in fall.
First opened in 1941, the brilliance of Thompson's design is apparent to all with his famous bunkering and magnificent routing, winding its way seamlessly through rocky headlands and wooded glens. Over the past two years, a dedicated Parks Canada crew, under the guidance of architect Ian Andrew, have been restoring the course to its original glory.
Of course, you don't have to take our word for it. Highland Links has been ranked as one of the top 100 courses in the world by Golf Digest and LINKS Magazine, and it's consistently ranked as one of the top ten courses in the country by ScoreGolf. You'll just have to play it for yourself to see why so many people are raving about this course.
Located in the village of Baddeck, Bell Bay sits high above Cape Breton's inland sea, the Bras d'Or Lakes, offering stunning, panoramic views from virtually every hole.
The routing of the courses takes full advantage of the natural features of the land, but it's distinguished by its final four holes. These holes have been called one of the best finishing sequences anywhere. The 17th par 3 hole, "Banshee" might just be the courses signature hole, rivaled only by "Breadalbane", one of the most scenic tee shots in golf. Looking over a great gorge as you tee off, the hole winds its way to the clubhouse with the Cape Breton Highlands silhouetted in the background.
Awarded "Best New Course in Canada" in 1998 by Golf Digest magazine and ranked as one of the top 100 courses in the country by ScoreGolf Magazine, this is a course you don't want to miss.
The Lakes is one of Cape Breton's newest golf masterpieces. The Graham Cooke designed course only opened to the public a short three years ago, but is quickly becoming one of the most played courses in Cape Breton.
Just 15 minutes from Sydney, The Lakes capitalizes on the beautiful landscapes and the outstanding views of the Bras d'Or Lakes.
Rounding off our tour of the island's Spectacular Six, Dundee's secluded setting is a little over three hours from Halifax. Almost every hole on this course offers a breathtaking view of the nearby Bras d'Or Lakes.
Nestled in richly forested hills, the club offers vistas as beautiful as the golf is challenging. Surrounded by the fall colours of Cape Breton, this is a course where you can't wait to tee off to the sunrise over the greens and fairways.
Whether you're looking for just one course or you want to plan out a road trip that will take in all six, you're sure to find some of the most amazing golf around. Have you had a chance to golf Cape Breton? Let us know which is your favourite course.